There is a great divide right now within the body of Christ between those who have declared they will vote for/support Trump and those who say they will never vote for Trump. By now you should know what is at stake (the Supreme Court, increased government overreach with the potential loss of 1st and 2nd amendment rights, and continuing to protect and even promote abortion—the moral atrocity of our time). I don't like to write about things that have been addressed/explained elsewhere so I won't get into all the logical arguments for voting Trump. If you don’t understand why voting for Trump makes more sense for a freedom-loving, America-loving Christian, then please read here or here. I want to address what I have discovered is surprisingly missing from every Christian debate over this issue (Scripture and consistent theology).
Much of the debate between Christians over Trump is a weird concoction of emotion, philosophy, conscience, and (sometimes faulty) theology. Trump supporting Christians see Trump as a bulwark against continued economic oppression, unprecedented corruption (normally found in the 3rd world), and future persecution for expressing their faith. NeverTrump Christians understand the worries of Trump-supporting Christians but they respond a few different ways: some say it's questionable whether Trump will stop or prevent these things; others say Trump supporting Christians do not trust God's Sovereign will to work through any ruler; others say that it's compromising our walk and our witness to support a leader (who calls himself a Christian) as licentious as Trump. When you look carefully at the real crux of the Trump debate between Christians what you have is actually a theology debate. To provide clarity on this I will focus on 4 main areas:
1. What do the Scriptures say?
2. Consistent theology.
3. What about our conscience?
4. Why don't we just pray?
1. What do the Scriptures say?
I have asked neverTrump Christians what Bible verse(s) they believe Christians are violating if and when they vote for Trump. The only Scriptures I have gotten in response was Ephesians 5:1-13 and 1 Timothy 2:1-3. Let’s look at them both and then break them down.
Ephesians 5:1-13 “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible.”
1 Timothy 2:2 "Pray for rulers and for all who have authority so that we can have quiet and peaceful lives full of worship and respect for God.”
Now let’s break it down…
Ephesians 5:1-13 seems to apply to 3 areas:
1. Church leadership
2. Our everyday walk
3. Our Christian fellowship (those we congregate with).
Where this passage from Ephesians does NOT seem to apply is secular rulers/those in authority over us, or even those we work with or hire for a specific task (unrelated to the Body of Christ). The Bible verse that does seem to apply to secular rulers/those in authority over us is 1 Timothy 2:2.
"Pray for rulers and for all who have authority SO THAT...[I'm pausing right here to emphasize the context and purpose of praying for rulers and those in authority. The purpose of praying is so that...]
WE CAN HAVE QUIET AND PEACEFUL LIVES full of worship and respect for God [i.e., so that we can live the lives God wants us to live outlined elsewhere in the Scriptures].
Now I'm sure Paul recommended prayer for rulers for "quiet and peaceful lives" because they didn't have the right to vote and prayer was all they had. I don't think it's too far a stretch to infer that if you have the right to vote you should continue to pray to accompany your vote so that we can have QUIET AND PEACEFUL LIVES full of worship and respect for God.
It seems like the theological mistake being made here by neverTrump Christians is that they are conflating the blueprint outlined in Scripture for Christian LEADERSHIP and fellowship, i.e., our moral duty to God and the Body of Christ with our duty to seek peace and quiet from secular/ungodly rulers (1 Tim 2:2) so that we can be free to live and worship God and follow the blueprint outlined in Ephesians for Christian LEADERSHIP (e.g., pastors) and fellowship.
In short, a vote for Trump is not a vote for him to be our Christian leader. A vote for Trump is a vote for a secular/ungodly ruler who is more likely to allow our lives to continue quietly and peacefully (i.e., without persecution).
2. Consistent theology.
Having sound theology is crucial to our walk, but it takes wanting to know about God, His Word, and what He wants us to do while we are here on earth. Why we don’t just pray is tied to this as well but the main thing I want to bring up is the hypocrisy of many neverTrump Christians who claim those who vote Trump don’t trust God’s sovereign will. A constant argument from neverTrump Christians is that "God doesn't need Trump to do his will"..."God is sovereign"..."Stop being concerned about who will rule the country..." But then they proceed to be concerned about the Christian witness. In short, they preach for every Trump supporter to not worry about who rules over us because God is sovereign, but they don't seem to trust that same Sovereignty when it comes to the witness of the Body.
For clarification, I believe we should concern ourselves (not to the point of anxiety) about our witness just as I believe we should concern ourselves (not to the point of anxiety) about those who rule over us; because, I believe although God is sovereign, we are called to work with Him in this world (i.e., in the affairs of men and the body of Christ).
3. What about our conscience?
Our conscience has a role in our lives and decision-making but it is not the Supreme arbiter of right and wrong. How do you think abortion and the acceptance of homosexuality/same-sex marriage has become so prevalent in the Church? It's from Christians following their conscience. "They are people too", and “What about a woman who was raped?” are all examples of Christians following their conscience and ignoring the fact that all humans bear the image of God (Gen 1:27, Jeremiah 1:5, 7:6) , and that God designed sex for man and woman in marriage (Matt 19:1-8). This is the kind of evil that can prevail when we simply “follow/vote our conscience."
So the argument from neverTrump Christians is they believe they can’t go wrong if they follow their conscience, and since it violates their conscience to vote for a man like Trump, they believe they can’t go wrong NOT voting for Trump. Again, this is faulty theology. Study "matters of conscience" (Romans 14) and what you will find is that it applies to INCONSEQUENTIAL matters that are merely between us and God (eating certain meat, the Sabbath, etc.). When it comes to CONSEQUENTIAL matters (that affects others), however, we are to use wisdom (Matt 10:23, Ephesians 5:15-17). I believe the Trump issue is not a sin/conscience issue; it is a wisdom issue (is it wise to vote for Trump?).
4. Why don't we just pray?
While prayer is an essential part of followers of Christ, it is not sufficient for our duties as followers of Christ. Anyone who has read God’s Word knows He calls us to do more than just pray. Here are just a few verses demonstrating how God has called us to do more than just pray while we are here on earth:
Genesis 1:28—“Be fruitful and multiply…”(notice God’s Word doesn’t say, “Just pray for fruitfulness and multiplication.” This verse even goes further and says we are to “subdue” the earth/govern it (again, not just pray for it).
Matt 28:19—"Go and makes disciples of all nations, baptizing them…"(notice God’s Word doesn’t say, “Just remember to pray for all nations...”)
2 Thessalonians 3—"The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat…"(notice God’s Word doesn’t say, “just pray that your Lord in heaven will provide extra for those unwilling to work). This verse was an action/inaction meet consequence verse.
1 Corinthians 5: 11-13--“You must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people...’Expel the wicked person from among you.’” (notice God’s Word doesn’t say, “Just pray for those who claim to a brother or sister but are sexually immoral, greedy, an idolater, slanderer, drunkard, swindler, i.e., the evil person among you.”
In short, God calls us to be involved in the world He created, not just be like monks in a monastery. There have been many Christians throughout history who have objected to Christian involvement in anything confrontational physical or political (e.g., loyalists during the Revolutionary War, and pacifists during the Civil and World Wars). Christians have been saying, “We just need to pray” for centuries. When we look to God’s Word, however, we see our duty is to pray AND be involved physically and vocally (i.e., more than just “pray.”) when necessary.
In conclusion, 1) there is no Scripture neverTrump Christians can point to that a follower of Christ is violating voting for Trump, 2) ridiculing those who are concerned over who rules over them because they “don’t trust God’s sovereign will” while you are concerned over the image of the Body of Christ is talking out of both sides of your mouth, 3) following our conscience is for inconsequential matters between us and God, not consequential matters (like who will rule over your neighbors and children), and 4) God calls us to be involved in the world He created, not just pray all day like monks in a monastery. Even those who claim all we need to do is pray are probably glad that those who fought the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and WWII did not just stay home and pray.
I pray this has provided some clarity to this contentious issue. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Please continue to pray, share this, and vote for the candidate who is most likely going to allow us to have quiet and peaceful lives, full of worship and respect for God!